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Opioid Craving in Human Laboratory Settings: a Review of the Challenges and Limitations

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There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when measuring craving in a human laboratory study. This review summarizes and discusses some of the major challenges researchers are faced with when assessing opioid craving in clinical research. First, there are wide range of available assessments that have been developed for measuring craving and depending on the research questions or the underlying constructs targeted, some may be more appropriate than others. In addition to establishing the methodological point of departure for designing a study with craving, there are also different participant conditions and characteristics that need to be evaluated when selecting among the large selection of assessments available. Participant conditions/characteristics can influence the degree or frequency of opioid craving experienced. Lastly, there can be contextual conditions that affect opioid cravings such as a stressful environment that may alter cue saliency. It is recommended that researchers carefully consider the different constituents that contribute to opioid craving and to ensure a comprehensive evaluation when assessing each participant. A more thorough consideration of these challenges can help us to understand the optimal ways to measure one important and complex component of addiction.

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Dr. Goodyear is supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (K01 AA026874) and previously by the 5T32AA007459 training grant. Dr. Haass-Koffler is supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (K01 AA023867; R01 AA026589; R01 AA027760) and by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE, P20 GM130414).

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Correspondence to Kimberly Goodyear.

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Goodyear, K., Haass-Koffler, C.L. Opioid Craving in Human Laboratory Settings: a Review of the Challenges and Limitations. Neurotherapeutics 17, 100–104 (2020).

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  • measurement
  • craving
  • human laboratory
  • assessments
  • opioids